Hans Castorp is ‘a perfectly ordinary, if engaging young man’ when he goes to visit his cousin in an exclusive sanatorium in the Swiss Alps. What should have been a three-week trip turns into a seven-year stay. Hans falls in love and becomes intoxicated with the ideas he hears at the clinic – ideas which will strain and crack apart in a world on the verge of the First World War.
Reviewed by Richard Crockatt in Slightly Foxed Issue 59.
A Peak Experience
If literary critics are to be believed, understanding literature requires an analytical approach. We all know, however, that our experience of a particular book or author is often bound up with where we happen to be in life. In that sense, reading is as much about self-discovery as discovery of what the author meant. Perhaps the great books are those which can accommodate the widest possible range of reader experiences of whatever time and place. Certainly the circumstances in which I read Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain (1924) bore little relation to those of its first German readers in the era of the Weimar Republic. Yet connections emerged in the most surprising ways . . .
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 59, Autumn 2018
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